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Wars + A Military Empire + Massive Borrowing = Monumental Debt, A Looming Disaster

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Debt$$$ by

Suppose you were the leader of a nation beset by mounting economic woes, mired down in massive debt, with a rapidly shrinking manufacturing sector, rampant unemployment, a crumbling infrastructure and a society filled with anger, frustration and fear of the future. Knowing the depth of America's escalating problems would you continue to allow what's left of the nation's wealth to be wasted on the proliferation of war and the expansion of a military empire?

The fact of the matter is that America is incapable of funding this agenda of war. So what does it do? Well it continues to use its foreign credit cards and run its dollar printing presses almost non-stop. Now here's how bad this situation has become: for every dollar that America spends it is forced to borrow $.40 from China, Japan, other foreign nations, as well as many private investors. That fact has been confirmed by reputable sources; here's just one of many.

Now, consider that America's annual Defense Department and national security budget is a staggering $1.3 trillion. Each year nearly 40% of that amount, let's say $500 billion, must be borrowed in order to keep our nation afloat. So if we project this trend for the next 10 years that would mean that our current $14 trillion national deficit would balloon to nearly $20 trillion. That's shocking but are these leaders showing any real intent to scale back this massive borrowing that is weakening this nation financially?

Here is the key question: why is the U.S. continuing to expand an already overextended military empire when it simply does not have the funds to maintain it? Even if the U.S. was financially strong and stable such an extensive empire would be very difficult to sustain; but, with a rapidly declining economy and an eroding financial foundation, the immense burden of military operations is, without a doubt, very damaging to our economic health.

There are those who dismiss this kind of thinking and contend that, given time, all our problems will end; that America's current economic crisis will not last, that it's merely a part of the normal economic cycle; that, according to the principles of economics, our economy expands to some point, contracts as we enter a recessionary period, and then returns to normal levels. Sorry, not this time. This time it isn't going to work that way.

Why? Well one major reason is that this nation has largely lost its manufacturing sector that is such an important contributor to our economy and GDP. It's often said that manufacturing is the engine that drives American prosperity and is central to our economic and national security. A quote from Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke in 2007: "I would say that our economy needs machines and new factories and new buildings and so forth in order for us to have a strong and growing economy."

Unfortunately this is simply not happening as our manufacturing, as a percent of GDP, has seen a continuing decline, from 25 percent in 1980 to its current 11 percent. Just in the past 10 years or so it has declined 6%, a very negative trend. Instead of creating new manufacturing to increase our exports and domestic sales, plus creating new jobs, we have seen over 40,000 U.S. factories closed over the past decade.

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We might refer to what is happening in America today as a form of Civil War; one between the forces of empire building and the forces of economic stability. So let's identify those who represent each side. The empire builders are, of course the Pentagon, the CIA, the defense industry, and a large part of the Congress; and let's not forget the folks at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. General Patreus went from the battlefield to the CIA and Leon Panetta, the lawyer and politician, went from the CIA to head the Defense Department; but the objectives remain unchanged.

Opposing them in this battle to determine who will control the agenda and direction of America is the force for economic stability; a group whose influence seems to be almost non-existent, whose silence is very noticeable; the president's National Economic Council (NEC), the Council of Economic Advisers and, yes, we must include his Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. Do we ever hear of any substantive economic initiatives emanating from these groups?

Guess who's winning this great struggle? You're right if you said the empire builders. They are, at this point, winning hands down. Those who should be fighting for economic stability certainly could use some more expertise because there seems to be an absence of economic heavyweights within these two groups in the Obama administration. There is a wealth of well-respected economists in America today that could be of great assistance in the task of producing more and better problem solving initiatives.

I'm speaking of economists such as: Dean Baker, Joseph E. Stieglitz, Paul Krugman, James K. Galbraith, Robert Reich, and Edward Wolff, to name just a few. Why is it that such experts are not being called on for advice by the Obama administration? Right now they represent a wasted resource in America; thus far they have been less than welcome in this administration and they remain sitting on the sidelines when they could be contributing to developing solutions to this nation's economic problems.

So, right now, the direction of America is not being driven by economic experts but, rather, by that select cadre of political and military advisers who have chosen war as America's #1 priority. The president and his economic advisers need to face this irrefutable fact; that this military empire can no longer be sustained; that it and our never-ending succession of wars are literally destroying the economic foundations of America. They could scale back the massive military presence in the world, significantly cut the defense budget, and America would still be very safe and secure.

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As this already dire situation greatly worsens where are the voices of the people? As this government gambles away the future of the nation on the pursuit of wars, why is there no great outcry? The millions of unemployed Americans need to understand that for every dollar spent on war, that's a dollar that can't be spent on creating new industries and new jobs that could end their misery. Those participants of the Occupy Wall Street movement should make it known that the richest 1% of Americans, the objects of their demonstrations, are among the biggest recipients of the obscene profits being generated from the wars and they should make that one of their main grievances.

When polls are taken they show that people are most concerned about jobs and the recession, with war near the bottom of the list. You would think that these wars that represent the greatest portion of this government's out of control spending would be at or near the top of the list. Why war is not being strongly denounced and condemned across this entire nation is incomprehensible and may be a clear indication that people are afraid of being branded as unpatriotic. Maybe it would be a lot different if, as was true during the Vietnam War, our children were in danger of being drafted; maybe then we would shout our protests from the rooftops.

So, no matter how much apathy exists with regard to war protests, the question still remains; how can this government continue to maintain and expand its military outreach in the world with money it doesn't have? How much longer will those borrowed funds be forthcoming from China, Japan and other investors? And how soon will we get to the point that we won't even be able to pay the growing interest due on the loans?

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Michael Payne is an independent, progressive activist. His writings deal with social, economic, political and foreign policy issues. He is a featured writer on Opednews and Nation of Change and his articles have appeared on many other websites (more...)

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